With final order, judge says Kentucky must recognize same-sex couples’ marriages

Today, U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn finalized his February 12 decision in Bourke v. Beshear, which seeks recognition for same-sex couples' legal marriages performed in other states. The ruling is effective immediately, meaning that today, legally married same-sex couples are recognized as such by the state of Kentucky.

The decision (read it here) comes just a few hours after the state of Kentucky requested a stay

The Associated Press reports:

The order means same-sex couples may change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky. The order doesn't affect a related lawsuit seeking to force the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kentucky's attorney general asked a federal judge on Thursday to delay by 90 days an order requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries ... which hasn't been ruled upon.

The judge, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II, was nominated to the seat by President George H. W. Bush, on Senator Mitch McConnell's recommendation, both high-profile Republicans. In the past two and a half months, seven federal judges have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, following rulings from Judge Shelby in Utah, Judge Kern in Oklahoma, Judge Black in Ohio, Judge Wright Allen in Virginia, Judge Coleman in Illinois, and Judge Garcia in Texas. 

The case, Bourke & Deleon v. Beshear, was filed on July 26, 2013 by private lawyers in Louisville, KY. The case argued that Kentucky's anti-marriage laws violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The case was filed on behalf of four married same-sex couples living in Kentucky. One of the plaintiff couples, Gregory Bourke and Michael Deleon, have been together for 31 years and married in Canada in 2004. Because of Kentucky's anti-marriage laws, they are treated as an unmarried couple. Today, they are officially recognized by their home state.

This week, Judge Heyburn also allowed two unmarried same-sex couples to intervene in the case, seeking the freedom to marry specifically in Kentucky. Defendants now have until March 19 to reply to the intervening complaint. 

Read more about the case in Kentucky HERE